Trucking industry, drivers prepare for solar eclipse

American Trucking Assns., along with millions of travelers and 3.5 million American truck drivers, will watch the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. The trucking industry is responsible for moving the nation’s goods during the eclipse and asks for the public’s assistance in ensuring safety on the country’s roads and bridges. 

“Since the last time we saw a solar eclipse from U.S. soil, the amount of cars on our roads has multiplied by 50 times, the demand for goods has grown, and highway users are more distracted than ever with new technology,” said ATA chairman Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express Inc. “It is important that we all work together and practice safety during moments like this and remember that even the smallest unsafe decision can ruin what could be a treasured memory.”

The Moon’s umbra shadow, commonly referred to as the “path of totality,” will span 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina. Nearly 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the path and travel experts, including the Federal Highway Administration, expect an increase in traffic in places where the path will be easily accessible. The path of totality will first make landfall stateside at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT before continuing across the continental U.S. through 12 states before reaching South Carolina.

In preparation for the eclipse, the trucking industry recommends leaving early to find a safe place to view the eclipse. AAA and the Federal Communications Commission advise travelers that weather conditions will play a significant factor in where eclipse viewers decide to set up for the viewing. Should inclement weather effect potential viewing, travelers may decide to adjust locations, further congesting the roads that are expected to see an influx of traffic. Because motorists will be traveling to the path of totality from hundreds of miles, many motorists may not be familiar with the roads, terrain and climate.

“I, along with 3.5 million professional truck drivers, ask that everyone who is traveling to view the eclipse on Monday do so in a safe, patient manner in order to ensure safe driving conditions for every motorist and passenger,” said America’s Road Team Captain Chuck Lobsiger of Walmart Transportation. “It is our collective responsibility to practice safety before, during, and after the eclipse so that everyone can get home and appreciate this historic event.”

America’s Road Team ask that drivers follow these tips, provided in part by AAA, for safely viewing the solar eclipse and navigating through additional traffic:

  • Turn on your headlights well before the eclipse to help you be more visible to drivers and improve your visibility.
  • Reduce speed so you’ll have more time to make an emergency maneuver.
  • Watch out for pedestrians! There may be people standing in or along roadways and streets watching the eclipse.
  • Be a defensive driver.  Be especially aware of the possibility of nearby drivers swerving into your lane.
  • Buckle Up: high congestion on the highways is a leading indicator of vehicle accidents. Wearing your safety belt saves lives. Remember to buckle up at all times.
  • Do not attempt to watch the solar eclipse when driving. Get to your viewing location well in advance of the eclipse.
  • Don’t depend only on cell phones for navigation. Safe driving is paramount when stuck in high traffic areas.
  • Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel. Make sure you have a full tank of gas, first aid kit, water and any necessary medication in case you get stuck in traffic. 
  • Be aware of truck blind spots: When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can't see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can't see you.
  • Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. NASA is expected to provide a great video stream of the solar eclipse, but wait until you are stopped in a safe place to use your cell phone.
  • During the eclipse, do not look directly into the sun.
  • Following the eclipse, many people will be anxious to get on the road. Take extra caution and use patience when entering and exiting the highway.  
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